From anthropocentric humanism to critical posthumanism in digital education

Sian Bayne, Petar Jandric

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In this conversation, Siân Bayne explains theoretical and practical underpinnings of the Digital Education Group’s Manifesto for teaching online. She defines posthumanism in relation to transhumanism, and describes the relationships between posthumanism and human learning. The conversation moves on to the historic concepts of cyberspace and cyborg. While these concepts have become slightly obsolete, the notions of smooth and striated cyberspaces, as well as the notion of cyborg learner, still offer a lot of value for contemporary digital learning. The conversation introduces the feeling of uncanny as a useful perspective for discussing the experience of digital learning. It moves on to show that approaching digital education through the lens of (digital) cultural studies is slightly dated, and offers another way of looking at digital experiences through social topologies of distance students. It analyses the metaphor of the network, shows that it still offers a lot of value, and concludes that it should be complemented by other approaches and metaphors. Looking at past concepts, it analyses the main problems with Prensky’s digital native – digital immigrant binary, and calls for its complete abandon. The conversation looks into the relationships between open access to information and open education, links openness and creativity, and shows that every act of opening is simultaneously an act of closure. On that basis, it dismantles the myth that open education is a democratizing, liberating, and empowering end in itself. The conversation shows that distance is a positive principle, and that education at a distance can indeed be better than classroom education. It analyses the relationships between big data, algorithms, and the politics of data science, and calls for balancing interests of corporations and the interests of the academy. It explores teacher automation through Bayne’s experience with teacherbots, and analyses the present and future of the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). It analyses important contributions to the field by the networked learning community, and concludes that networked learning (NL) approach is much more advanced than the technology enhanced learning (TEL) approach. Finally, it advocates reaching beyond the entrenched, embodied legacy of humanism within education, and calls for approaching contemporary digital learning from a critical posthumanist perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-216
Number of pages20
JournalKnowledge Cultures
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • critical posthumanism
  • digital learning
  • manifesto
  • smooth space
  • striated space
  • cyborg
  • uncanny
  • digital natives
  • digital immigrants
  • digital privelege
  • open education
  • digitzation
  • plagiarism
  • algorithm
  • TEL
  • artificial intelligence
  • networked learning


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